Cologne NYE Sex Attacks: 650 Police Complaints Filed – Just Three Men Convicted

COLOGNE, GERMANY - JANUARY 1: Visitors celebrate New Year's Eve as police stand guard in front of Cologne Cathedral, not far from where on New Year's Eve one year ago hundreds of apparently coordinated sexual assaults were perpetrated against women, on January 1, 2017 in Cologne, Germany. City authorities have …
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VIRGINIA HALE

Just three men were convicted of carrying out sex attacks during the notorious events on New Year’s Eve 2015 in Cologne, despite more than 600 women filing complaints of sexual assault, local media reports.

By January 2016, a couple of weeks after the evening’s events saw mobs of migrants launch group sex attacks on unsuspecting German women, and robbing revellers indiscriminately, a total of 1,304 people had come forward to report crimes ranging from pickpocketing to gang rape.

But despite all promises to bring the full force of the law against the perpetrators, from figures including Angela Merkel — whose office issued a statement alleging the Chancellor had “expressed outrage over these vicious attacks and sexual assaults” — only a handful of men were ever convicted for crimes committed on the night.

While 661 women filed complaints of sexual assault, just three men were found guilty of sex offences, two of whom — an Iraqi and an Algerian — received only suspended sentences, according to the German news weekly, Der Spiegel.

It reported that the third, a Libyan man found guilty of groping women at the New Year’s festivities, was reportedly ordered to serve one year and nine months in prison for two counts of assault, and for immigration law violations.

An investigation into court records in Cologne found the three were convicted only thanks to the existence of ‘selfie’ photographs of the perpetrators and their victims, taken prior to the attacks, while the majority of women who came forward to report crimes had lacked any means to identify their assailants.

Spokesman for the Cologne District Court, Wolfgang Schorn, described the legal system’s “overall failure” to bring justice following the attacks as “sobering”, commenting that the “chaotic situation” around the city’s main station on New Year’s Eve made it very difficult to produce concrete evidence matching suspects to crimes.

Prosecutors in the city investigated 290 suspects relating to 43 cases, of whom only 52 men — mostly from Algeria, Morocco, and Iraq — were charged, according to Der Spiegel.

Six of the 43 trials were discontinued as a result of the suspects’ whereabouts being unknown, while 32 of the remaining 37 trials, which mostly related to robbery and theft, resulted in convictions.

The gravest punishment handed out was reportedly to a 30-year-old Algerian convicted of robbery, who was awarded a jail term of just one year and 11 months.

Taking place just months after Merkel’s highly controversial decision to open Germany’s borders to well over a million migrants, the majority of whom were male, unskilled, and illiterate, the events of New Year’s Eve in Cologne were initially not reported in the country’s press for several days.

With fury erupting on social media over reports of attacks by “men of North African and Arab appearance”, the scale and nature of which had not been previously seen in Europe, the absence of mainstream media coverage led to accusations of a cover-up and later in the year a federal police confirmed that most of the perpetrators had migrated to Germany during the 2015 crisis.

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